After a month of work, I finally got my video application for thatguywiththeglasses submitted (hey, I can dream), but let me tell you, pulling it off was one those great trials you remember for life. There was naturally the fact that I had to learn all about directing and editing as I went, but the real killer was that my equipment didn’t just give me trouble: It was actively fighting me. No less than four times, I came back to find all my progress had been ruined, and the first time alone was enough to make me question whether I could still get it done. Days’ worth of work was lost, and I had to start from square 1 more than once. (Safe to say if I do this again, I’ll be paying for some major upgrades.) At points, I was honestly convinced that a month’s worth of work would amount to nothing but a list of important things put on hold and a laughable story of failing to even get off the ground.

 

Well, when you’re in that deep of a hole, you might be surprised at what becomes your source of inspiration. There were a few great movie scenes that came to mind which made me want to keep trying, but they weren’t quite the typical Hollywood “yes you can!” iconic moments of epic proportions. Sometimes, I suppose, it’s the movies that don’t set out to create that effect per se which end up stumbling onto something even more identifiable, ringing even truer. So now, in return, here’s my tribute to the great scenes that at one point or another were my unlikely source of inspiration. As before, it’s the top nine, because less is more. (No, I’m still not giving that up.)

 

Spoilers ahead

 

 

9. Ed Wood – Orson Welles’ speech

 

This scene in Tim Burton’s biopic on Edward D. Wood Jr. is presumably an embellishment, but then again, how do we know who either Orson Welles or Ed Wood happened to run into in the random bars they visited?

 

Ed Wood, infamously known as the worst director of all time, has spent all morning arguing with his producers over such trivial details as the movie switching from day to night between shots, and he’s at the end of his rope. He stomps off to a bar in the comforting kind of angora sweater his mother used to dress him in, where he spots his hero, Orson Welles, whom he just has to meet. He politely introduces himself, and they strike up a little conversation, where Wood learns that the empathetic Welles is having similar problems, such as the studio asking him to cast Charlton Heston as a Mexican. (Even Wood can see why that would never work.) He asks Welles if it’s worth it, and Welles tells him it is, when it works.

 

“Visions are worth fighting for” says Welles. “Why spend your life making someone else’s dreams?”

 

In this light, if Mr. Welles really ever said such a thing, he couldn’t have known how right he really was. Why not just go for it, to the best of your judgment? Even if the final product is garbage, at least it’s your garbage, meaning you’ve given the world a piece of yourself. That’s something it didn’t have before and won’t have again. And in the case of Ed Wood, though it was unfortunately after his death, the world did learn to appreciate that. Not exactly a rallying cry, but it helps me get excited to keep trying new things, and it’s one of the reasons Ed Wood is possibly my favorite Tim Burton movie.

 

 

 

8. Meet the Robinsons – The finale

 

Not the first time I’ve mentioned this one, but like Ed Wood, it’s just a nice bit of encouragement to keep going and not get caught up in the downside.

 

Lewis, the little orphan inventor who thought he’d never find a place, has just been through one zany time traveling adventure, discovering in the last act that he was having it with none other than his adopted family of the future, where he is a beloved success. Using what he’s learned along the way to save the day – at points succeeding where he failed before – he’s then repaid by his future son with a trip to the past to reach his goal from the beginning of the movie, meeting the mother who gave him up for adoption. He almost makes himself known to her but changes his mind, opting to stay out of sight until she leaves. When his son asks why he let her go, he answers “Because, I’ve got a family.”

 

He then sets out to join said family where he left off, on the day he was adopted, and they proceed through a heartfelt closing montage encouraging viewers to keep moving forward. I’d mention the best part (again), but hey, you can just watch that for yourself.

 

 

 

7. The Muppets – The finale

 

Who’d have thought the Muppets could pull off something like this? The scene involves the Muppets putting on one more show together as a fundraiser to save their old theater from the likes of Tex Richman. They don’t even come close, earning about a tenth of the money they need (though due to a misplaced decimal, they believed they were right there until the last minute). They’re then forced to leave, with nothing left they can do, unsure of what to think.

 

That’s when Kermit steps up to lead them one more time with a speech about how they’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. They tried and failed together, which, as far as he’s concerned isn’t failing at all. As when they’re movies started to bomb, they’re losing their platform, but they haven’t lost the quality that made them winners in the first place, as long as they keep believing. So they walk out the door ready to work their way back up together, upon which we’re reminded of the very simple reason why Kermit was entirely correct: Literally every person in the world loves the Muppets.

 

So yeah, keep trying to share that special quality about you. Even if it falls through sometimes, isn’t it worth it just to connect with those who appreciate it?

 

 

 

6. Follow that Bird – Ain’t No Road Too Long

 

Now we’re getting to the real heat-of-the-moment motivators, and it couldn’t be much more unlikely than something from Sesame Street.

 

Big Bird, having realized that his new family, the Dodos, was no family at all, is on the run, hoping to get back to his real home on Sesame Street. He manages to secure a lift with Waylon Jennings, who is apparently having a slow year, having taken a job transporting turkeys. When Jennings tells Big Bird that Sesame street, even after the ride, is about three weeks away on foot (so all along, we should have been asking him how to get there), Big Bird fears he’ll never get home. But Jennings knows that’s no way to think and tells him to listen, kicking off a song about how no road is too long if you just keep going. Standard preschool lesson for toddlers, right? Well, what separates Ain’t no Road Too Long from something like, say, this is the way it injects meaning into every lyric. It paints a picture of just how the right attitude helps you overcome life’s way of being difficult, all sung in a memorable and reassuring tune that makes it more encouraging, in fact, than most similar lessons in adult movies. It helps you pack for the trip, instead of just trying to push you out the door.

 

But wait, isn’t a life lesson along those lines taking things more seriously than Sesame Street was really geared to do? Well, as it turns out, the gang searching for Big Bird each has their own spin to put on the song, and everyone but Super Grover actually does it pretty well. Yes, even on Sesame Street, it’s not always a sunny day, sweeping the clouds away, but even so, few creatures understand the value of positive thinking better than our favorite motley crew.

 

 

 

5. Eight Mile – Lose Yourself

 

How about that? I just went from Sesame Street to Eminem.

 

Eight Mile is a good movie that casts a sympathetic and intuitive light on its subjects, but its biggest legacy may still be Lose Yourself, the most pessimistic motivational song I’ve ever heard. The song describes Em’s character and his attempts to rise through the ranks, fighting not to be a loser by making his way through a very tough, superficial world that, in its own way, still places a lot of emphasis on respect. But where it really starts to do the trick is in the refrain and subsequent verses that make going for it sound, at very least, much better than the alternative:

 

You’d better lose

Yourself in the music, the moment

You own it

You better never let it go

You only get one shot

Do not miss your chance to blow

This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo

 

It’s pretty simple, once you hear it. Forget second guessing, forget one last look through the battle plan, and forget even thinking about it. When you get the chance to impress someone worth impressing, you need to take it, and you need to have nothing on your mind but the urge to nail that performance. It turns out to be a pretty easy notion to get behind.

 

 

 

4. Frozen – Let it Go

 

We’ve heard all about this one since it was first seen by audiences over half a year ago, and it’s still getting radio play. But there’s a reason people consider it so one-of-a-kind. The sequence starts by taking us down a road we know all too well, with a character we’d all seen before, showing us her despair after being erroneously branded a monster and cast out. Then it pulls the rug out from under us.

 

Do I even need to describe the rest? It’s all a pure burst of cathartic joy after the seemingly stoic and suffering Queen Elsa makes the decision of the generation: She’s not mad at herself, and she’s not ashamed of what she is. Her power over ice and snow, despite its seeming inability to exist safely in her life within the kingdom, is something she loves about herself, and now it’s time to let it go. With that, it suddenly becomes a hopeful song, quickly escalating into a power ballad about exploring and enjoying her talent, looking forward to a new life free of fear and suppression. And though it won’t always apply to situations that do demand a little concern, the sequence is a perfect answer to any time someone might have tried to get you down for holding to your own. If you’re ever feeling shame or regret over something you just couldn’t work with, well, let it go.

 

 

 

3. Holes – Don’t Give Up

 

I’m not entirely sure why this song was one of the first that came to mind, but it’s one I ended up listening to several times over the past month. It’s incredibly simple, it sends a message we’ve all heard too many times to count, and it has to be one my new favorite songs.

 

Holes, both the book and the movie adaption, covers a wide range of themes, but standing up to the odds isn’t exactly one of them. But for whatever reason, when Stanley is lost in the dessert with his best friend Zero and forced to carry him up a mountain, the movie decided to go all in, playing up their struggle and their determination with a montage. And the Eagle Eye Cherry number played with it resonates so much more than the moment probably deserved.

 

It’s like Cherry captured hope in a bottle and then injected it into a song about being borderline-down and out. It just finds the perfect tone, never losing the sense of hardship and struggle – so it doesn’t end at a point where you think “easy for you to say” – but still creating a sense of something to aspire to. It highlights the part of the struggle in which it’s easiest to not see a reason to keep going and then tells you why you should, as well as why you should be proud of it. Maybe tomorrow I’ll ask myself what I was thinking, but today, this song is a champion for inspiration in the face of hopelessness.

 

 

 

2. Kiki’s Delivery Service – “We fly with our spirit”

 

Here’s another one I might have mentioned before. This one became my impromptu motivator for finals week during the worst semester I ever had at college, just after I’d gotten used being noted as a decent student. Like many of Miyazaki’s movies, it’s a bit touchy-feely, but it’s even more intelligent, and the result is a virtuoso moment of subtle affection and inspiration.

 

After a string of mildly disappointing adventures, Kiki, the witch staying with a friendly baker for her training in a new town, has lost her powers overnight. She can no longer fly, effectively crippling her new delivery service and putting her training on hiatus. But as it sends her into even more of a depression, she’s offered an impromptu getaway by a painter she’d befriended named Ursula, who invites her to stay at her cottage for a while. Younger and less refined than most adults in Kiki’s life, Ursula also isn’t quite so nurturing at first, but her playful and optimistic demeanor is just the boost Kiki needed. Then she asks Kiki to pose for her newest painting and makes an interesting note on how her own artistic powers have abandoned her before, never worse than the time just after she started, when she found she loved it so much that she’d paint until she fell asleep at her easel.

 

“Then, one day, I just couldn’t paint anymore. Nothing I did seemed any good. They were copies of paintings I’d seen somewhere before and not very good copies either.”

 

What she ultimately learned is that she had to rediscover what and why she wanted to paint. As she says when Kiki helps her find the words, her spirit wasn’t behind it, and that’s something everyone needs in order to perform, whether it’s the thing they were meant to do or not.

 

“That same spirit is what makes me paint and makes your friend bake.” Ursula tells her, gleeful at her own moment of insight. “But we each need to find our own inspiration Kiki.”

 

It’s here that Kiki’s Delivery Service transcends the usual heights of Miyazaki’s slice-of-life movies and becomes my favorite film of his. It speaks to hope and self-acceptance in a way not quite like anything else I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be a copy of the scene on hand, so instead, please enjoy the equally effective depiction of what happens when inspiration returns: http/www.animelyrics.com/anime/kiki/imgonnafly.htm

 

 

1. Rocky Balboa – Speech on moving forward

 

Now you may be wondering how I could put Rocky on a list of “unlikely” inspirational moments when the series is practically made of training montages and underdog championship fights. Well, first of all, nobody expected the story of Rocky getting back into the ring at age 50 to have much of anything new to say. And in spite of that, it ended up creating one of the most powerful moments in the entire series, not through the training montage but through a scene of Rocky’s son criticizing him for setting up another championship fight, claiming he’s sick of the shadow Rocky casts.

 

“Let me tell you something you already know,” says Rocky, getting to the point of his rebuttal. “The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard ya hit. It’s about hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep movie forward. That’s how winning is done! Now if you know what you’re worth then go out and get what you’re worth. But you gotta be willing to take the hits, and not pointing fingers saying you ain’t where you wanna be because of him, or her, or anybody. Cowards do that and that ain’t you! You’re better than that!”

 

I don’t think there’s much I can add to that. Just the praise that it’s always worth remembering. Even when you’re absolutely flat on your back, this speech has the reason that you should get up: Because doing so mean you’re a winner. Period.

 

 

 

 

And so, with my favorite moments of inspiration covered, I hope you feel a little more up to whatever challenge you’re on at the moment. Personally, after a whole blog spent being inspirational, I think I’m ready for some lazy time, so I’m gonna go see what’s in the freezer. Ciao.

 

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.